There have been two visits by religious leaders to Umaru Yar'Adua our amiable President recently on the invitation of the first family. If information filtering out from these visits are anything to go by then what has become obvious is that he is not well enough to even have meaningful discussions with these religious leaders. I understand in one of the visits, he was barely able to speak for about five minutes.
Nigeria is such a funny country. We have used stories written on newspapers or broadcast heard as circumstantial evidence to make decisions so far up to this stage. The National Assembly in her wisdom has made a save our soul type of declaration based on the doctrine of necessity and here we are. We have an Acting President with full presidential powers but with no deputy as required by the constitution. Jonathan is the Acting President and the full time Vice President. How lucky can he ever be? The constitution did not envisage this but that is the situation. As General Domkat Bali once said, in Nigeria anything goes and it appears to me Nigerians can accept anything so long as the boat is not rocked.
Jonathan seems to be doing his home-work well as he attempts to carve a niche for himself. He appears to have withstood the pressures so far by way of counter tactics. A lot of people thought he was naive when it comes to the game of politics. He however has made some impact on at least those who thought he was a political junior student. He has also made some people happier. However, he has been unable to tell Nigerians about his principal. He has kept silent on the issue ever since he was declared Acting President. I am not sure he has been allowed to visit his principal so I can not hold him to that. But I wonder if the President of this country has a no go area. So what is going on? Who is suspecting who? Has Jonathan become the issue?
But what exactly is my concern when all seems to be going on fine for those who are in the corridors of power, schemers and agitators. There appears to be a field of heavy fighting for personal interests. From the owners of farms to the owners of oil blocks to those who live on hill tops. The polity is ruled by the retired Generals each attempting to over scheme the other. Yet we say we have moved from military rule to democracy. This is obviously no doubt a military democracy and I stand to be corrected.
To come back to President Yar'Adua, I wonder if based on the visits so far, we can deduce the capability of our ill President. Is there any information for the National Assembly to use? When can they decide to act on information available in public domain? Is there no room for another doctrine of necessity with regards to incapacity? These are the questions plaguing my mind. But of course I know that with individuals protecting their own interests we can hardly get any answers. I am not at all surprised that the pretence to support Jonathan to move the country forward will be showcased for now until the gladiators find someone who will do their bidding.
Did I hear any one say that the job of being a President of Nigeria is a tenure appointment and not a life long employment? That it is not a civil service appointment to a retirement age. The constitution says the occupant will be in post for four years in the first instance and can be re-elected for another four years. In effect we are saying that if any one is elected to occupy the post of the President of Nigeria, he or she can not be in post for more than eight years. This therefore tells us that President Yar'Adua is elected to serve for a limited period. This is what should qualify permanence in the determination of incapacity. In fact his ability to re-contest is dependent on his fitness and capability following the initial four year employment.
So why are we Nigerians putting ourselves in a quagmire? Why have we decided to treat ourselves as if we do not have any hope or are blind? I believe in our country Nigeria. That one day, the people shall rise. That one day we shall not be taken for granted. That one day the people's voices will become overwhelming and we as a people will be able to decide our fate. And the day coming nearer and nearer!
I have read various arguments about whether Jonathan should be made a substantial President or not. I wonder whose interest it serves when there is an Acting President who is also the full time Vice President. For my brothers from the North, don't you think it is to the North's detriment that there is no Vice President for now who would have come from the North? If the North wants to produce the next elected president then, they must put their house in order. They must speak with one voice. The North should no longer personalize positions to individuals. I think the current situation is inimical to the political growth of the North if they will care to know. If they don't act someone will give them another person soon.
This is why I think, it is time to decide on Umaru Yar'Adua's level of capability to continue in his role as President of Nigeria. From the occupational health view point, the role of a president requires tasks like making speeches, holding meetings till late, travels and making decisions using higher functions. It is obvious that the job requires having a sound physical, mental and psychological health. If the President's Personal Physician feels that his principal is capable, then he should clear him and let him return to work. If not, Nigerians should be told how long the President is likely to be away at least. If that is not feasible, then it is time to decide on his permanent incapacity for the role he was elected for. The question for now is that; is he likely to be fit to do his job before the next fourteen months expires? That is the time limited incapacity we should be discussing. But who will bell the cat; the National Assembly or the new EXCOF which both have roles to play.
I know that family members and associates will be worried about what they will lose in the light of Umaru not being the most powerful man in Nigeria. However this is life. Nothing lasts for ever. I think it is time to put country first. Umaru Yar'Adua will be entitled to his remunerations and nobody can take that away from him. In fact he will leave with dignity. Finally, if the belief of most Nigerians whether Christians or Moslems that God gives and God takes is to be upheld, then we should realize it is time to move on. Our Golden jubilee is beckoning and we should not be static.